Since the early ’60s, singer-songwriter and Indigenous icon Buffy Sainte-Marie has claimed to be a Cree woman who was born in Canada. But this thorough, carefully reported investigation by CBC News reveals that she’s not Native at all.

A simple Google search shows that virtually every available source says Sainte-Marie was born on the Piapot First Nation in Saskatchewan.

But that was contradicted late last year when a tipster provided CBC with a copy of what appeared to be Sainte-Marie’s birth certificate, obtained from a small town hall in Massachusetts.

That record said Beverly Jean Santamaria, who started going by the name Buffy Sainte-Marie early in her music career, was born in 1941 in Stoneham, Mass., north of Boston, to Albert and Winifred Santamaria — the couple Sainte-Marie claimed adopted her.

Mother, father and baby were all listed as white.

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.